WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Two people were killed, and three were hurt in an explosion on the grounds of a Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital in West Haven on Friday morning.
Officials on scene told News 8 crews that one of the deceased was a VA employee, and the other was an outside contractor. Three others also suffered injuries. The victims have not been identified at this time.
The Director of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Alfred Montoya, said that the employee who died was a U.S. Navy veteran, who joined the VA because he wanted to give back.
A spokesperson for the VA told News 8 the incident was due to a leak in the steam plant, which is not part of the hospital building. The pair was fixing the leak when the explosion occurred.
It is unclear exactly what happened.
West Haven police and Connecticut State Police responded to the scene at the request of the city’s fire marshal.
State police told the Associated Press they are sending three detectives from their fire and explosion investigation unit.
Smoke could be seen coming from the building when News 8 arrived.
“The Leadership and Staff of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) are deeply saddened by the tragic accident at the Federal VA in West Haven and extend our condolences and prayers to the families of the victims and to our Federal colleagues who continue to care for Connecticut’s Veterans,” DVA Commissioner Thomas J. Saadi stated Friday.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released a statement Friday regarding the explosion saying,
“It is sad day in America, as we continue to learn more about the incident at the West Haven VA this morning. Our hearts go out to the families of those individuals who have been impacted. As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve been in contact with the director of the facility and will continue to remain in touch as more information becomes available. There must be a full and complete investigation as to what was the cause for this fatal, tragic explosion – our veterans deserve the best care, and the safest and most reliable work, always.”
Sen. Blumenthal is a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont posted a statement to Twitter Friday saying in part, “At this time we can confirm that there have been two deaths, and our hearts go out to their families and colleagues at the VA center. This is a heartbreaking tragedy, and I have instructed our state agencies to provide full resources as the response and investigation continues.”
This story will be updated as more information comes in.